July 25, 2014 – Few would ever argue that a military service fails to prepare soldiers for just about any job once their commitment is complete. In fact, one of the major selling points for those who opt to serve is the opportunity for training and education in a wide variety of careers.
While former soldiers can reasonably expect to succeed in almost any field they choose, many find that a post-military career in nursing is an ideal fit. There are a number of reasons that this is the case – beyond the abundance of job opportunities and high earnings potential (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn a median annual salary of about $65,000).
Thanks to the G.I. Bill, most soldiers earn money to cover at least a portion of their college costs after serving, funds that they can use toward attending nursing school. However, it’s not just the G.I. Bill that can help defray the costs of nursing school. A number of organizations offer scholarships and grants for qualified students, and the federal government has established a number of programs specifically designed to help qualified veterans become nurses.
In some cases, veterans may even be able to enter into accelerated programs that draw upon their service experience and allow them to finish their nursing education in one or two years. In short, the medical field is beginning to recognize the value that military-prepared nurses bring to patient care, and are developing pathways to encourage more soldiers to enter nursing.
While some nursing students enter nursing school with some experience in patient care and basic first aid, few have the depth of training and experience of military veterans. Even those soldiers who are not trained as medics undergo intense first aid training, well beyond the basics that most people learn in a local course. For those soldiers who serve in emergency response or medical capacity, nursing is a logical next step.
Ability to Work Under Pressure
No one ever said being a nurse was easy. Even in the best of circumstances, nurses work long hours, manage multiple priorities and constantly changing environments. For example, in an emergency room, a quiet night can suddenly turn chaotic when there is a major accident, and nurses may have to shift gears suddenly to prioritize patients and ensure everyone gets the care they need.
The fact that nurses are expected to be able to react immediately and make split second decisions while still following protocol makes it an ideal fit for veterans who likely have experience in life or death situations, and training in the decision-making, problem solving and prioritization skills that are vital in nursing.
Ability to Work as a Team
While individuals are valued in the military, and everyone brings something unique to the table, the military’s mantra is teamwork. Every training exercise, every mission is designed with each person playing a specific role and completing a specific task. If one person fails, then the entire mission is at risk.
Most soldiers develop the ability to put their own goals and desires aside for the good of the team and learn to follow orders, even if they don’t agree with their leader or the tactic itself.
This ability to see oneself as a part of a greater whole is important in nursing as well. Nurses must work as part of diverse teams of doctors, other nurses, technicians, administrators and others, and if there is a breakdown at any point of the process, patient care could suffer. That’s not to say that all nurses aren’t committed to working as a team for the well-being of their patients, but military-trained nurses have unique experience in working with various constituencies and managing conflict, and understanding their own roles in the greater picture.
Nursing can place significant physical demands on one’s body: Not only do nurses spend hours on their feet each shift, they are also often required to lift or transport patients, or in some cases, restrain patients in a medical or psychological emergency. The military places a priority on physical fitness, meaning that military prepared nurses are generally in excellent physical condition and able to manage the physical demands of the job.
Again, military service prepares veterans for a wide variety of careers, from business to teaching and everything in between. However, veterans who want to continue serving others while making use of their training and experience often do well in nursing, and shouldn’t overlook transitioning their much-needed skills into this field.
This article is written by Kathryn Smith, a tech and entertainment blogger. Kathryn also contributes for various education and career blogs and helps her blogger pals enhance their social and writing skills.